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The Regia Marina (Royal "Italian" Navy) dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy (Regno d'Italia) in 1861 after Italian unification. In 1946, with the birth of the Italian Republic, the Royal Navy changed its name as it was now the Navy of the Italian Republic (Marina Militare, "Italian" Navy).
During the Spanish Civil War, the Royal Italian Navy was busy running supplies to the Spanish Republicans from Germany. After war erupted in 1938, the Italian Navy began fighting with both the British and the French, but despite the combined forces of both nations, the Italians still managed to slip past the blockade and into Spain.